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tv   [untitled]    December 4, 2013 11:00am-11:31am PST

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>> thank you for putting this together. i'm honored to be here with corey, who i consider to be one of the greatest writers of all time. >> very nice of you, thank you. >> welcome to san francisco, corey. i think like all great sci fi writers i think you inspire
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many to realize and build the future. your writing is very useful because it seems to be in the very near future. corey doesn't only do /tp*eupbgs, but he also writes about the current news that's going on each day. that's what makes his fiction so good, people depend on him to keep up on current news events and what they mean to all of us everyday. further more you use your knowledge to be an activist and make a change in the world. you inspire a lot of people for more than just your writing and actions. >> thank you. >> really appreciate all your hard work. >> thank you. >> how many of you have read little brother already? wow, all right, very cool. how many of you have read every one of corey's books? >> my dad has his hand up, and my mom. >> your dad and mom.
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[laughter]. >> i thought we could talk about librarians for a minute. that's a group i really only got to know because of you. i didn't know that when you check out a book afterwards your records of checking out that book are destroyed. librarians, i think -- i didn't really realize as a hacker, librarians and hackers have a tremendous amount in common. they're both huge advocates of privacy and human rights. i think that's something that was really eye opening to me and i think has been to receive an award for librarians and their friends is even more honorable than almost any other award i could imagine receiving in the world so i think it's really special. >> thank you. >> i know you've been talking a
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lot of librarians lately and what they've done and i've got a lot of questions here for you tonight and so i was wondering, how do we know you're going to be truthful with the questions we're asking you? >> i see where you're going. there's a wonderful radical librarian who after the patriot act came into effect, which provided for cops going to libraries and secretly demanding looks at their records to see who was checking out the terrorists book so they would know which terrorists to arrest based on their terrorist reading, and librarians wouldn't be able to tell their patrons when the fbi is snooping on their records so she came up with a great idea. she put a sign up on the side of her wall saying the fbi has not been here yet, watch for this sign to come down. it's much harder to say to
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people you're not allowed to tell people a secret, but it's another thing to say you're require today lie. the jurisprudence is a lot more complicated than saying you can't tell someone this secret because it's an important secret. requiring them no to remove the sign saying the fbi has not been here. it's a way of pushing the idea of enlisting everyday people into the business of surveillance and making us all kind of part of the surveillance apparatus. it kind of pushes the absurdity of that forward. not everybody wants to play junior g-man and requiring them to do that as a matter of law puts them in absurd, comical
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positions. i see you have the sign. >> i thought if you kept the sign with you while we're have the interview, we'd know you were telling the truth. i added a little bit to the librarian one, which is what i thought the -- >> yeah, you left out the cia, although most of them are on furlough so they're unlikely to turn out. >> well, you know, i think i've read in the new york times that they said that you were really good at delivering subversive content to youth and i have a feeling that's why the librarians really like you and gave you this award because it seems like they're a very subversive group. >> i think so. i mean, librarians, it's funny -- i talk at a lot of library conferences and one thing i say to them is i think they
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underestimate the extent to which they have a great deal of moral authority. even in these crazed times of characterizing everybody who does public service or people who work in public service as a parasite who wants to get rich off the taxpayer, nobody says you got involved with ply libraries to make fat bank. there is only one reason to get involved with librarian ship and that's because you believe in the ancient mission of universal access to knowledge. librarians have this moral authority with when it comes to the implications of privacy policy. anyone that's ever worked in library collection development, the people who decide what books are going to be on the shelves, knows that just because somebody decided to pay money for a book doesn't mean
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that book has anything significant to say. and librarians are the proxy for us are mining out the books that are worthy of our attention to add to the collection so when we go to them and say help me answer an important question, now we're all in that position. the internet is a place where navigating authority is more hard than it's ever been and having these professionals around who've dedicated centuries to figuring out how to navigate authority and there as a resource for all of us as we embark on this complex project of figuring out which of the answers that the internet proffers the net of 1,000 lives proffers to your question, which one of those is the one you want to go with before you treat your embarrassing skin condition or repair your home wiring or teach your kids that the earth is 5,000 years olds and
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dinosaurs and humans coexisted. figuring out how to navigate that authority is harder than it's ever been and here we have ready made this entire class of professionals who systematized that project and who are better suited to teach us about that than anyone and who we need more than ever been. >> i agree. you're here visiting for a few days with your parents. and your daughter? >> yeah. >> how old's your daughter? >> she's 5-and-a-half. she's sitting over there wearing the adventure time shirt. >> do you teach your daughter subversive content too? >> a little bit. you know, i did spend a lot of time whenever we told stories about princesses and queens and kings talking about why it was princesses and queens and kings didn't have an honest job and
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there was this version for a while that we used to tell of sleeping beauty where after the thorning grew up around the castle after she pricks her finger on the spinning wheel where the people in the villas below the castle have 100 years there while princes keep riding up to enter the castle and getting skewered on the thorning. we used to tell it with people from the village going up and saying why don't you come with us and become gainfully employed instead of nowing throwing your body against the horrible thorns. we have a lot of rewarding work you can do and over and over again being rebuffed by these inbreds who would throw themselves against the thorns.
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and finally when prince charming gets through the thorns, and kisses the princess and they emerge and they say we're back, bow down, the villagers say we don't need somebody whose sole job is to sit around and wave, but if you'd like there's honest work for you, otherwise we've collectivized your castle >> i like it, i can't wait. it seems to me that you're described subversive content as a good thing and that's not really how websters describes it. >> i don't know. i guess subversion's in the eye of the beholder. i think robustness of ideology arises from having to answer good questions about its legitimacy. that even if you think that the state as it exists is a good
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one, the way it remains good is having it continuously tested for goodness, by having people question whether or not it's doing a good job and demanding it show its work and demonstrate that whatever decisions it's arrived at are ones that are grounded in evidence and are doing as good a job as possible. i mean, i think there's more than one failure mode for a system. it's not that systems are sometimes corrupt, they're also sometimes incompetent and solving that problem involved figuring out which problem you have and since systems always have to continually adapt to the world, the world is changing so the systems we use to regulate our conduct in the world has to change all the time too. when those systems fail it's important they fail well. and when they fail we must
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review whether they're failing because of corruption and we need to know how to address that. the idea of subversion, demanding that the state prove its legitimacy and prove that the mistakes are honest and not foolish ones, is this thing that makes the state good. it is good through that process, in the same way that security is not a product, but process. it's a continuous conversation between people who try to find venerabilities and secure systems and people who respond to those venerabilities by repairing them so the state can continually improve by continuous criticism and scrutiny and adversarial arms length arrangement between people and the people who govern them. >> i agree completely. i'm fine with you teaching my
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kids subversive content. >> i know you are. >> but i noticed that your book, little brother, is on the nsa required reading for new hires. are you also teaching them subversive content? >> i hope that i am. the thing that we learn from snowden is that people go to work in the intelligence apparatus with the best of intentions, or intentions that are good, and are sometimes horrified to discover that the consensus that has been arrived at within the institution about how best to do good is at such enormous odds for what people are believed to be doing that they see no alternative but to go public what with that criminality. and the idea that people are learning from a story how it
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feels when the default posture of a computer shifts from yes master, to i can't let you do that, and are therefore poised to understand when their employer embarks on a program by making them watch what people using them are using them to do and keep them from doing things that are undesirable and makes them go public with that information is good news. they can put blood and sinew into what are otherwise very theoretical and abstract arguments. imagine it was 1997 and orwell had yet to publish 1984. and someone said we're going to put cameras everywhere, microphones everywhere and see
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everything that's going on and stop it in its tracks. it's like something on the /sur monoon the mount, his eyes on the spar row, we will be men as gods and see all the wrong doing and stop it as it arrives and you try to explain why it is the cameras all over the place would undermine your ability to live your life lived as a free fully realized human being. you wind up sputtering a bunch of generalities. it would just feel creepy for you to spy on me. fast forward a couple years 1984 has been published and has brought forward a versatile adjective. you can say i don't like your camera idea because it's orwellian and that one word gives the feeling that you feel
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when you read orwell, that very difficult society that orwell described. if there are people who go to work at nsa and read a story in which having your computers and internet turned against you makes you feel that you can't conduct your affairs, even those affairs that are totally legitimate and perfectly defensible and good, then that's great. that's a good outcome, you know. that is, i hope, at least spurring a debate internally there at the nsa. >> i agree. i think you have to go everywhere. >> it's called roots now, right? >> right. >> it used to be deaf con kids, which is hands down the best kids technology program i've
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ever seen. 20,000 hackers descend on vegas to bump every lock ever made and how air traffic control systems are inherently insecure and so on. and often, a side room all the kids who come with their parents get to hang out and have all of the keynote speakers from the head of the nsa to notorious and awesome hackers come and give them one of 20 workshops on how this stuff works and how to think critically about it. they get lock picking workshops, they learn how to hack devices. your daughter discovered a venerability in apple's ios operating system when she was 9 and disclosed that to apple after a long internal debate about whether or not the kid should use it secret and use it to improve their scores on network video games.
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what an amazing ing program. you bring them to those programs. not in year, interestingly enough. you uninvited the dod this year. >> only one year because the year before i think that balance and having both sides is really what we all need. we can't be afraid of the other side we disagree with. >> you know, it's always interesting to hear people from the nsa who are /aeu /k*us accustomed to a tame press and audiences, address a very free wheeling, incredibly smart hackers who really understand security and who can distinguish between security and security theater and who are not shy about standing up and explaining to the general the difference. that's pretty awesome. >> the kids got them alone.
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>> they are pretty tough crowd. >> we're here in san francisco today. tell me a little bit, why did you decide is san francisco the place for little brother? >> there's a lot of reasons. obviously san francisco has this great counter culture history so writing a story about kids who lead a radical movement in the streets of san francisco, there's all that residence through the history in san francisco with the -- last year's one book one city pick, a paradise built in hell talks about kind of bohemian cultures that arose spontaneously out of the 1995 earthquake. san francisco has always been one of these places for counter
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culture stuff. it lodged here in the bay and here we are. this amazing city. also, because a funny thing happened after 9-11. people who had never had much time for new york and who thought of it as a kind of embodied sodem and gamora and thought of it as a pit of fuzzy headed liberal ism and cosmopolitan, after the attack they demanded that in return for this horrible attack on this city that they suddenly realized they had all this emotional attachment to, which gave them the basis for demanding wars in foreign countries that they would declare themselves to be
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honorary new yorkers and feel they had a legitimate say that new york be turned into a police state. there are those people for whom new york is san francisco like, but who would be perfectly happy to declare themselves to be honorary san francisco citizens after a terrorist attack on san francisco, especially if it meant they could endorse an instant police state for san francisco for its own good. >> love it. i find it interesting that you picked a school as this. you know, i think as we're all looking add snowden right now and learning we're surveilled more than we thought we were, i learned most kids under the age of 18 are constantly in a surveillance state. >> i mean, we have this kind of beta test arrangement for our surveillance and control
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technology. we start with prisoners and mental patients, we move on to kids and then it goes to fortune 500 companies and then everybody gets it. that's the path for technologies of control. kids in particular in america since the passage of communications decency act have been extremely surveilled because that's the act that required organizations that receive federal funding, including schools to sensor their internet connections, to run some kind of sensor that nominally stops kids from looking at important. one of the things not understand about censorship on the internet is synonymous with surveillance on the internet. there's no way to stop people from looking at bad pages on
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the internet. one way to understand that is that -- we've just comed through bends books week and in the 50's, i believe, the united kingdom banned just by telling everyone who ran a bookstore that if we caught you selling it you'd get a fine or maybe go to jail. that more or less accomplished a ban on it, but banning the website is a more complicated business. you'd have to snap up all the internet traffic from your country or school and make sure none of those url's that you're requesting come from that website. every organization that receives federal funding in the name of stopping kids from looking at important, sends all their traffic off to companies
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that sensor ware. these companies are pretty dirty. your kids are being surveilled by companies whose major source of income who make a side business out of surveilling american teenagers and this data is being offshored to these international war criminals. and we're telling kids your privacy is very important, it shouldn't surprise us that kids say you tell me that my private data is invaluable and once gone can never be recovered and should be guarded as preciously as my virginity, but at the same time you tell me all my internet interactions are going
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to be harvested up by some giant corporation that i have no insight into and is not accountable to me and that if you catch me doing anything to stop these companies from seeing anything i do on the internet, i'll get kicked out of school, it's not surprising to hear that kids don't take us seriously when they tell them that facebook is not a great place to dump the intimate details of your private life. telling kids not to do that at the same time you're surveilling everything they do as part of some failed adventure from stopping them from looking at bad internet pages is like asking them to stop smoking as you're putting out your last cigarette in the ashtray. >> october 6, obama said
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something that i swear i read in your book -- is there a point where the president said you can't have privacy and security at the same time and you're going to have to give over -- >> that may have appeared in the book. it's false die dichotomy that we hear a lot. there's this abstract called security and when you have it you are secure, but security is only in context. i am secure from the government when they can't satisfy on me and they are secure from me when they know everything i do. the thing that i want to be secure to do is to be private and to say well, i can't have privacy and security at the same time is to say i can't have security at all. the security doesn't incorporate the right to be left alone, the right to conduct your affairs and go about your business. i think this is a really
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underappreciated element of this, but to make mistakes, the way to double your success rate is to triple your failure rate and the way to triple your failure rate is to make the can cost of failure cheaper. whenever any idea is immediately seen by someone else is like if you ever watched a kid learning how to master a skill and they catch you looking at them, they catch you looking at them as they're trying to form their letters or learn how to play an instrument or learn how to draw something and the self consciousness of knowing you're watching them stops them from being able to freely make the mistakes that allow them to learn to do it better. that is kind of a microcosm of a process that we go through all of our lives as we are human beings. >> do you consider privacy a basic human right? >> i think so. and not only
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that, i think more interestingly and maybe even miraculously, it appears to be woven into the universe. it is easier to keep a secret than break a secret. your message gets more secret with a linear increase in effort, but breaking that secrecy is harder so if you want to make a secret that's so strong that all of the computers now made are or yet to be made laboring in concert can't possibly brute force, we can do that with a modest computer today, provided we can trust that computer, provided the code hasn't been back doored by spies, provided that it was implemented well. foolishness or corruption -- provided that our code is free from both of those, we can make
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secrets that we can share with other people without third people being able to interpose themselves, and assuming we live in a democracy where no one hits you with a rubber hose until you tell them what their password it is. not only is it a human right, but it is in some sense inevitable if we get the technology right. it's something we get for free. >> won't that kind of privacy enable the four horsemen that you talk about to take over the world? >> pirates, mafia, and child pornography. there is a funny history we're in and it's monitoring things that are general purpose and
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complicated. we've had general purpose machines for a long time. we always understood that those machines were general purpose and there was no way to stop them from being used in bad things. like, no one ever said every car has got four wheels on it and including the cars that bank robbers drive away from bank heists let's make a bank robber proof wheel. we understand that such an adventure would be doomed from the start and to attempt it would be substantial violence to wheels that we all rely on everyday. if you said the car, we can see that people who talk on phones, even hands free phones in cars gets into accidents and so i want a rule that says you're not allowed to put a hands free phone in a car, no one would say you're not allowed to


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